The phrase “Content is king” written by Bill Gates more than 2 decades ago still applies more than ever in today’s increasingly crowded digital space.
While the format of content may have evolved over time, with new trends such as short-form video content, interactive content and augmented reality, digital marketing still and will always revolve around quality content.
As such, content strategy is critical to ensuring your brand message stands out from the noise.
What Exactly Is Content Strategy?
Content strategy is the ‘why’ and ‘how’ that binds together your content efforts and business goals. This extends to all content that your business puts out, whether it is client targeted or otherwise.
It is also important to distinguish between content strategy, content marketing strategy and content plan which are terms that may be sometimes used interchangeably which should not be the case!
Content marketing strategy is more targeted towards your customers, and this is your reason for creating content, who is your target audience and how does your content help them. This is usually used to build audiences for your brand and accomplish one or more of these goals: more revenue, decrease marketing costs or get more / quality clients.
As for a content plan, it is a tactical document with the specifics of how to execute your content strategy, and who is in charge of which aspect.
Why Is It Important to Have a Content Strategy?
Too often people assume that content strategy is not important in the early stages and start out with their content plan, proposing topics and assigning people to write them before they even have a well-defined content marketing strategy.
However that often leads to a lack of clarity and consistency, decreasing the quality of your content, which leads to lower engagement and poorly targeted calls to action and thus weaker results.
This is because good content strategy acts as the basis by which you attract and delight your customers throughout their buying journey.
With the flood of content available online, it is no longer enough to be a content creator or worse simply aggregating or repurposing available content. Consumers are increasingly discerning and focus only on the top quality content while filtering out the rest, clickbaity titles and quantity of content may work for a while but will only damage your brand in the long term.
On the flip side, quality content and thought leadership can quickly springboard your brand and increase consumer trust.
Only by doing so, you can create a reliable and cost-effective content funnel that addresses every touchpoint on the consumer buying journey from awareness to consideration to decision and post-purchase.
The benefits are immense, as a single well-written and SEO-optimised blog post that is within the first few Google search results can generate a huge amount of organic traffic that converts into leads for a long time.
With the steady base of evergreen content and flow of leads, you can then confidently experiment with sponsored content and other paid marketing methods building on the strong content you have already created.
Not to mention, with over 70% of all marketers already having a content marketing strategy and pushing ahead with this powerful low-cost marketing strategy, you’ll be falling behind if you fail to adapt!
How to Develop Your Brand’s Content Strategy
Now that we know it’s important, how exactly do we go about building content strategy?
First of all, it’s important to recognise that no two brands’ content strategy should be the same and there’s no definitive template answer to content strategy as every business and its customers is unique but there are four consistent elements in every good content strategy.
- Your customer(s) and their persona(s)
- Your solution(s) for customer problem(s)
- Your content branding
- Your channel plan
- Your publishing and engagement plan
Here are some questions you can use to clarify these elements for your content strategy.
- Who is your target audience and what’s their persona?
Pinpointing your target customer groups is the first and most critical step in building your content strategy.
Understanding your customer via personas will allow you to identify their pain points, demographics, psychographics and more to identify key topics of interest, what channels they frequent, what they value, how is your solution relevant to them
These personas will enable you to map out at what points of their customer journey should your content engage them to create a content map.
Establishing the types of customer groups you have will also help determine if your content and channels need to be differently targeted to address the different types or if you can focus on certain common topics and channels.
- How do you solve your target audience’s problem?
This assumes that you have already identified their problem in the earlier step and now you are simply matching your content or product or service to address their problem.
It is important to note that this may not refer to your product or service being the solution, as good content strategy addresses your target customers’ problems not just the ones your product or service can solve in order to fully engage them.
This can also be at any stage of the customer journey, whether at the awareness stage where they may still be identifying the problem or evaluation stage where they are gathering information and finding solutions or even if they are already post-purchase where you can advise those already using your products and services.
How you decide which stage or which problems and topics to cover is also determined by your content branding, which you have to decide on depending on your business objectives.
- How do you brand your content?
This is crucial as you are creating a brand image for your target audiences, which needs to be consistent and coherent in order to leave a lasting and good impression.
If you have multiple audiences, it may be worthwhile considering segmenting up your content brands if the target audiences are very different.
Otherwise, you risk sounding like you have Multiple Personality Disorder if they access content targeted at another audience group or worse trying to address multiple groups and end up undifferentiated and bland to all.
This branding helps to set you apart from competitors as it gives your brand a voice and if your content is of good quality and relevant shows that your brand is trustworthy and
for the customer.
It is also important to consider the formats of your content as that will greatly shape your customers’ perception of your content branding. While this can evolve over time to incorporate new platforms or trends, it is important to know why you are using certain formats and how it portrays your brand to your audience instead of blindly chasing after new trends.
- Which channels are aligned to your content brand and accessed by your audience?
Different channels here can include your own channels such as your website and blog or social media such as Facebook and Instagram or social media content platforms like YouTube or TikTok.
There’s a huge array of channels you can use but it is important to ensure that channels are consistent with your branding and your target audience’s preferences.
- What does your content schedule and engagement plan look like?
Your content strategy should also include the frequency of your content publishing which then determines your content creation schedule as well as take into account seasonality or events in order to consistently engage your target audience.
When you are able to answer all of the above questions, you should have the essentials of a content strategy. However, this is not the end as content strategy is not a static one-off document but rather an on-going process that requires constant updating and refining.
How Do You Know If Your Content Strategy Works?
Now that you have a content strategy, the next step is to test if it is a good one! For that, you will have to learn to measure the results of your content marketing to validate your strategy.
Otherwise, you might end up like some brands who continuously create content that do not speak to their audience because they never took the effort to listen to what their customers are saying!
While your customers don’t usually tell you directly what they like or don’t like - with proper grasp of key metrics you will be able to analyse their likes and dislikes and the reasons behind it.
The number one metrics that you should be gathering is engagement metrics, which you can easily derive from Google Analytics with factors such as Pageviews, Average Time Spent on Page, Bounce Rate or Organic Traffic.
All these will tell you which are your best performing articles that have created spikes in traffic or which ones may be poorly written with high bounce rates and low average time spent. You can also find out which are your best performing articles in terms of SEO by looking at organic traffic and even the keywords that drive them for better targeting.
Looking at comments, social sharing and other social statistics will also enable you to determine the virality and engagement factor of your content and also how well you are amplifying the content on various social media platforms.
You can use this data to decide publishing timings, which channels or groups to share to, how to improve your copy for the particular platform and what kinds of call to actions best attract your audience to click into your content.
Conversions or click-through rates will also tell you how well your call to actions are performing and can be linked to different goals that are revenue related to provide revenue based insights.
All the data here should be targeted at building up a lead funnel and determining how well it is working to convert your audience into your customers and linking all of it to your bottom line.
There are many different metrics that you can also use whether on your own site via Google Analytics or other analytics software or the built-in analytics on social media platforms, but it all comes down to how you derive insights to determine if your content strategy is fulfilling your business goals.
While creating a good content strategy may not be impossible to create, you’ll often come to realise practical implementation of it will be a lot tougher.
There’ll be quite a bit of trial error necessary in order to figure out the right mix for your brand, on the bright side once you have that, it’s a simple matter of repetition to build an audience for your brand.
Of course, it is always easier and faster to get professional help if you are stuck so if you need any help, you can email us at firstname.lastname@example.org!